Swimming improvement means many things to many swimmers.
From the ability to swim relaxed confident laps for health and wellness, to breaking personal records in your next open water event or Masters race.
Yet for most, the words 'I want to swim faster' are a popular desired outcome.
When I hear this though, I clarify the response with the following question.
Do you mean flat out, short distance, sprinting (<100m), or the ability to hold your pace, and be able to inject spurts of increased pace but maintain consistency, over longer distance's.
Nearly 100% of answers fall in the latter case.
Both have some underlying principles of
- Increasing stroke rate, partly dependent on your metabolic conditioning at any given time
- Increasing power output
- Minimising the loss of stroke length
Read this great post by Mat Hudson, as it highlights the issues faced by so many regular 'squad' swimmers, who churn out the hard yards and the big sets yet, fighting to get back to the wall before the next interval starts.
If I had a dollar for every time a regular squad swimmer came to me and said - "well I am swimming 3 x times per week but getting no faster."
READ ON -
Mat highlights so many important point here.
"If all other things are equal between the two, Swimmer B’s faster curve is a result of having a better ‘hull shape’. In other words, the two swimmers are applying the same amount of power but have different technique for how that power is applied during the stroke. Shape is the most obvious reason why."
The need for power training, for most translating into 'hard work sets', is not denied but it must not come at the expense of technique.
As we say in the TI world efficiency first, speed second! This boils down to being able to hold your stroke mechanics and minimise excess loss of stroke length as you increase power.
Matt hones in on the underlying principle of 'vessel shape' being crucial to progress through the hard yards.
And in his final paragraph explains that good old 'plateau' that so many swimmers reach in their swimming journey
If you liked that read - here's the next one in the series: